Images by Robyn Dutra
We couldn’t have dreamed up a more inspired creative union than that between womenswear designer Yigal Azrouël and the late starchitect Zaha Hadid. And indeed, during this most recent New York Fashion Week, the former previewed his latest collection for Fall Winter 19 in Hadid’s striking new West Chelsea residential building. Located in Manhattan’s once-gritty-gone-glam neighborhood, abutting the Highline, its organic forms and graceful curves provided the perfect backdrop for Azrouël’s architecturally inspired collection.
The Israeli-American designer chose to showcase his work in a gallery setting, a stripped down presentation with no runway and no live models. Uniform racks of gorgeously modern clothes were accompanied by still photography (“…taken behind the scenes in my studio,” Azrouël reveals, when we catch up with him for a recent interview) and video projections that were shot during castings and fittings.
“I always like to take pictures, why not show the process, as part of the inspiration?,” he says of the films, adding that they are about “watching her movement, going from one frame to another, creating a vision. Not about showing a lot, but purely about the minimalism in the collection.”
This refreshingly laid back approach lent an air of timelessness to both the surroundings and the clothes at his NYFW show.
And to be sure, citing “the process” as his guide, Azrouël’s own organic tendencies – like Hadid’s – have guided his design work over a remarkable twenty-year career. “I’m not sure what I like, what I don’t like,” he confesses.
Judging from the receptivity of the crowd that gathered on a very cold, windswept evening, they too were letting the emotion of the clothes, paired with the intimate presentation, envelop them in a fantastical fashionable embrace.
We ran our fingers across creamy, chunky knits and geometric wool plaid (our personal favorite), deconstructed black leather and electric blue oversized corduroy. Unique palettes and the mixing of masculine and feminine design elements (much of it handmade) were all trademark Azrouël.
Unexpected combinations – think: tops and bottoms meant to be worn together or separate – all highlighted his talent for precision tailoring, sophisticated use of luxurious fabrics and excellent draping, making for a compelling presentation. One particularly exquisite jacket was constructed of leather with a sweater backing, allowing the shape of the bonded knit to show through, and creating a subtle reptilian effect. Overall the collection is entirely wearable, while enduringly elegant. Yigal Azrouël has again achieved such a fine balance that is sure to make well shod women swoon.
“By releasing control, trusting the energy,” he insists, “it feels much more real to me, more emotional.”
We couldn’t agree more.